Integrated approaches yield positive results
Focusing on prevention and treatment, the current strategy to fight malaria is yielding positive results.
Prevention includes long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying with insecticides that kill malaria parasites, both cost-effective preventive measures.
Yet, treatment is needed to save lives and eliminate malaria parasites, preventing further transmission of the disease. Since 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and as a result, most African countries have adopted ACTs as a first-line treatment.
Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) also play an important role in fighting drug resistance by ensuring that ACTs are only given to patients who actually need them. The WHO recommends that all patients be diagnosed prior to ACT treatment, with the exception of children under five in endemic areas, who should be treated presumptively.
This integrated approach has demonstrated highly positive patient impact. In Zambia for instance, using ACTs, bed nets and indoor spraying has reduced malaria in-patient cases by 61%, and malaria in-patient deaths by approximately 66%, between 2003 and 2007.1
In the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia in 2005, during a major malaria epidemic, the community deployment of ACTs and RDTs has led to a three-fold decrease of the malaria parasite reservoir and a reduction of approximately 40% in malaria mortality.2
Beyond prevention and treatment, building capacity in malaria-endemic countries to strengthen their healthcare systems and deliver high-quality interventions is essential to ensuring long-lasting health impacts.
- Chizema-Kawesha E, Mukonka V, Mwanza M et al. Evidence of substantial nationwide reduction of malaria cases and deaths due to scale-up of malaria control activities in Zambia, 2001–2008. World Health Organization, Zambia 19–23 January. Impact Evaluation Mission Report.
- Getachew A, Desta A, Lemma H, Fottrell E, Tigray Malaria Study Group. Deployment of Artemether Lumefantrine (AL) at community level and its impact on malaria specific death rate during an epidemic year [abstract]. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2007; 77:206.